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Lucknowi Biryani (easy oven recipe!)

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This amazing Indian Lucknowi Biryani is baked in the oven in a single pan. North Indian Spiced tofu Rice bake has fantastic flavor with unique blend of spices! It needs just 1 pan and 15 mins active time. A 2 step bake means no need to stand around sautéing the tofu or the aromatics! Gluten-free. Options for Soyfree Nutfree Oilfree.

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You guys love my baked jackfruit biryani, so I decided to make another baked biryani for you. Biryani is a Rice dish often with added meats. Many regional cuisines of India have their own variations of this rice dish. They can vary significantly, some just a few spice differences while other with the processes and methods as well. Today we are making a royal biryani from Awadhi (Lucknowi) cuisine.

Lucknowi cuisine (north-central Indian cuisine) has influence from Mughal, nawabi, and Punjabi cuisines with its own dishes. Lucknowi Biryani is usually made with meat, like lamb. I’m using tofu here as the protein, I’m using the same spices that make that biryani ultra delicious and special. Come along with me on my mission to explore regional Indian cuisine as well as make vegan versions of meat heavy Indian recipes!

Biryani is a rice dish, which usually has a really flavorful protein added to it. Everything is layered in a pot to get all of the flavors infused into the rice, and it’s served either as-is or with some yogurt dip raita or as a side dish. The traditional cooking requires many pans and multiple steps to get all the flavor in the protein and the rice which is then layered and slow cooked in a covered/sealed container. I simplify that whole process by baking the Biryani so you need just 1 baking dish and a few minutes of active time in the kitchen!

I’m using very specific spices in this recipe for that particular authentic flavor. If you don’t have all of the spices, use whichever spices you have and add in some extra garam masala, or you can use the spices from my jackfruit biryani.

Why You’ll Love Lucknowi Biryani

Crisp spiced tofu and rice flavored with a mix of whole and ground spices

same incredible, layered, complex flavors baked in a single pan in the oven

only 15 minutes of active time and the rest hour is baking in the oven

naturally gluten-free with easy nut-free, soy-free, and oil-free options

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Lucknowi Biryani (North Indian Spiced Tofu Rice Bake)

Baked Indian Lucknowi Biryani. This North Indian Spiced tofu Rice bake has fantastic flavor with a unique blend of spices! It needs just 1 pan and 15 mins active time. A 2 step bake means no need to stand around sautéing the tofu or the aromatics! Gluten-free. Options for Soyfree and Nutfree

Prep Time15 minutes minsCook Time45 minutes minsTotal Time1 hour hr

Course: Main, Main Course, Side, Side DishCuisine: Indian, north indianKeyword: lucknowi biryani
Servings: 4
Calories: 287kcal
Author: Vegan Richa
IngredientsFor the spice powder1 ½ teaspoons fennel seeds1 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds2 whole green cardamom pods1 black cardamom pod2 whole cloves6 to 8 black peppercorns1 tablespoon Kashmiri chili powder⅛ teaspoon nutmegFor the biryani2 teaspoons oil optional, see note2″ cinnamon stick2 whole cloves2 green cardamom pods opened slightly2 bay leaves2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste1 tablespoon non-dairy yogurt½ teaspoon salt1 ½ cups (240 g) chopped red onion8 ounces (198.45 g) firm or extra firm tofu pressed for at least 15 minutesFor the rice1 cup (185 g) long grain Indian white basmati rice washed really well and soaked for five minutes2 cups (473.18 ml) water or stock hot2 tablespoons non-dairy yogurt¼ teaspoon salt cilantro, lime juice, pepper flakes, and roasted cashews for garnish

InstructionsPreheat the oven to 410° F (210° C).Add all the spices under the the spice powder heading to a spice grinder, a small food processor, or a coffee grinder, and make into coarse powder and set aside.Add the oil to a 10×12” or similar-sized baking dish, then add all of the whole spices (cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom, bay leaves) and mix in. Add the ginger garlic paste, yogurt, powdered spice mixture you made, and the ½ teaspoon salt to the center of the pan. Mix this to make a paste. Then, add the onion to one side of the pan, and tear the tofu into 1” pieces and put them on the other side of the pan. Toss the onion with half the paste and the tofu with other half. Try to keep tofu a bit separate from the onion, so that it crisps up better.Put this in the oven to bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the onion is cooked and the tofu is starting to get crisp. Stir once in between and check if the onion is not scorching too much on the edges. If it is, then you can scoop the onion towards the middle of the pan.When the onions are cooked and the tofu is crisp, remove the pan from the oven. Reserve some of the tofu to top the biryani later. Then, add in the washed and drained rice. Add hot water or broth, non-dairy yogurt, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and mix lightly. Cover the pan with parchment paper, and put it back in the oven for 20 to 25 more minutes. Check in at the 20-minute mark to see whether the rice is done. If it is looking like it’s standing and you can’t see any liquid, then check if the rice cooked through. If not, then keep the pan covered and continue to bake for another 5 minutes or so.Remove the baking dish from the oven, and fluff. Squeeze a little lime juice all over and top with the reserved tofu mixture, cilantro or any other herbs that you like, cashews, and pepper flakes. Serve with some raita (see notes) or non dairy yogurt.Store refrigerated in a closed container for upto 3 days
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NotesRaita is kind of a yogurt dip. To make the raita, mix ½ cup non-dairy yogurt with a few tablespoons of non-dairy milk or water until smooth. Add in ⅛ teaspoon each of salt, cayenne, and ground cumin and mix in. Also sprinkle some more of the ground cumin and cayenne on top. Top it with a little cilantro and serve with the biryani.
Lucknowi biryani is naturally gluten-free.
Nutfree, don’t add the roasted cashews as the topping and use a nut free non-dairy yogurt.
To make this Soyfree, use soy-free non-dairy yogurt and use soy-free tofu — like chickpea tofu or pumpkin seed tofu — or use soy-free vegan chicken substitutes. You can also use chickpeas, jackfruit, or seitan instead of tofu, if you like.
Brown rice: parboil the brown rice for 20 minutes, then add to the casserole dish, use 1 cup hot water/broth instead of 2 cups and continue recipe as written
Nutrition
Nutrition Facts
Lucknowi Biryani (North Indian Spiced Tofu Rice Bake)

Amount Per Serving

Calories 287
Calories from Fat 54

% Daily Value*

Fat 6g9%Saturated Fat 1g6%Polyunsaturated Fat 2gSodium 488mg21%Potassium 240mg7%Carbohydrates 50g17%Fiber 5g21%Sugar 4g4%Protein 11g22%
Vitamin A 614IU12%Vitamin C 7mg8%Calcium 157mg16%Iron 3mg17% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Did you make this recipe?Please do leave a comment and rating below.. Tag me on Instagram @veganricha

Ingredients and Substitutions

spice powder mix – You’re using whole spices and ground in a powdered spice mix. For the whole spices, you’ll need fennel and cumin seeds, green and black cardamom pods, whole cloves, and black peppercorns. The ground spices for the powdered mix are Kashmiri chili powder and nutmeg.

oil – To crisp up the tofu and brown the onions. You can omit oil and line the baking pan with parchment, if you want oil-free.

whole spices – You’re also adding whole spices to the biryani itself: cinnamon stick, cloves, green cardamom pods, and bay leaves.

ginger garlic paste – Adds umami and supporting flavor to the Lucknowi biryani. Use minced ginger garlic if you don’t have paste

non-dairy yogurt – Offsets some of the heat from all of the spices and adds richness to the dish. Choose soy-free and/or nut-free, if needed. Or use non dairy cream of choice

onion – Chopped red onion browns in the baking pan to add so much umami flavor!

tofu – This is replacing the mutton that’s in the traditional version of this Lucknowi biryani recipe. If you want this to be soy-free, you can use soy-free tofu — like chickpea tofu or pumpkin seed tofu — or use soy-free vegan chicken substitutes. You can also use chickpeas, jackfruit, or seitan instead of tofu, if you like.

rice – Use long grain Indian white basmati rice for the best results. Be sure to wash it well and soak for five minutes before using.

water or vegetable stock – You want the liquid to be hot to help it dissolve all of those amazing spices!

garnishes – You’ll top the finished biryani with cilantro, lime juice, pepper flakes, and roasted cashews. Omit the pepper flakes, if you want less heat, and omit the cashews, if you need nut-free.

💡 Tips

Basmati rice contributes its own flavor and texture to this dish. For the most authentic results, this is your rice of choice. Get long grain Indian basmati like royal extra long or India gate xl

To make the raita, mix ½ cup non-dairy yogurt with a few tablespoons of non-dairy milk or water until smooth. Add in ⅛ teaspoon each of salt, cayenne, and ground cumin and mix in. Also sprinkle some more of the ground cumin and cayenne on top. Top it with a little cilantro and serve with the biryani. 

How to Make Lucknowi Biryani

Preheat the oven to 410° F (210° C).

Add all the spices under the the spice powder heading to a spice grinder, a small food processor, or a coffee grinder, and make into coarse powder and set aside.

Add the oil to a 10×12” or similar-sized baking dish, then add all of the remaining whole spices and mix in.

Then, add the onion to one side of the pan, and tear the tofu into 1” pieces and put them on the other side of the pan.

Add the ginger garlic paste, yogurt, powdered spice mixture you made, and the ½ teaspoon salt to the center of the pan. Mix this to make a paste. Toss well to coat the onion and the tofu in the spice mixture. (For crispier tofu, Mix the tofu first so that you keep keep tofu a bit separate from the onion)

Put this in the oven to bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the onion is cooked and the tofu is starting to get crisp. You might want to stir once in between and check if the onion is not scorching too much on the edges. If it is, then you can scoop the onion towards the middle of the pan.

When the onions are cooked and the tofu is crisp, remove the pan from the oven. Reserve some of the tofu to top the biryani later. Then, add in the washed and drained rice. Add hot water or broth, non-dairy yogurt, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and mix lightly. Try not to overmix, so that some of the crispy edges of the scorched onion are still there in the pan.

Cover the pan with parchment paper, and put it back in the oven for 20 to 25 more minutes. Check in at the 20-minute mark to see whether the rice is done. If it is looking like it’s standing and you can’t see any liquid, then check if the rice cooked through. If not, then keep the pan covered and continue to bake for another 5 minutes or so. 

Remove the baking dish from the oven, and fluff lightly. Squeeze a little lime juice all over and top with the reserved tofu mixture, cilantro or any other herbs that you like, cashews, and pepper flakes, if you want it even hotter.

Serve with some raita (see tips for the recipe) or non dairy yogurt. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this recipe allergy friendly? Lucknowi biryani is naturally gluten-free.This recipe is nut-free, if you don’t add the roasted cashews as the topping and use a nut free non-dairy yogurt. To make this without soy, use soy-free non-dairy yogurt and use soy-free tofu — like chickpea tofu or pumpkin seed tofu — or use soy-free vegan chicken substitutes. You can also use chickpeas, jackfruit, or seitan instead of tofu. Can I make oil-free biryani? You can easily make this oil-free by using a parchment-lined pan and omitting the oil.

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